Accepted Paper:

Restoring Omani heritage (Harat Al Bilad - a case study)  

Author:

Soheir Hegazy (Scientific College of Design)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to reveal the serious challenges which may obstruct Oman's plan in protecting its heritage. Through interviews and field study, the challenges and anticipations of restoring Omani heritage will be presented. Finally, suggestions for improving the restoration process will be deduced.

Paper long abstract:

The Sultanate of Oman has an ancient civilization which stretches back more than 8000 years. Oman's wealth of historical buildings include over 500 forts, castles and towers. In addition, Harat (the Omani quarters ) one of the outstanding features of the Omani heritage exceed 1160. It is also the closest monument with regard to the human activity, Other palaces, caravansaries and mosques are also included. In 1980, The Ministry of Heritage and Culture began to work on protecting such heritage through programs of restoration, legislations, and documentation of historical buildings. Regrettably, till now, only five harat (quarters) out of 1160 are under the renewing program.

This paper aims to reveal the serious challenges which may obstruct Oman's ambitious plan in protecting its heritage. These changes may constitute a real burden on local authorities. For example, tremendous lack of both experienced and qualified staff & professionals, difficulties in providing traditional construction material (sarooj), and a continuous shortage of traditional craftsmen are some of the challenges discussed.

At the beginning, the governmental policy of restoring Omani heritage will be discussed. Then, the remarkable history of Harat Al Bilad, the central theme of this paper, will be clarified. Through interviews and field study, the objectives, challenges and anticipations of the Omani heritage in general with a close scope of Harat al Bilad will be presented. Finally, suggestions to improve the restoration process of the Sultanate's heritage will be deduced.

Panel P141
Between innovation and tradition: ethnographies of change